Association of Personal Injury Lawyers
A not-for-profit organisation representing injured people

Small but significant step forward for bereaved people

08 May 2019
APIL news

Justice ministers have “finally caught up with reality” by taking steps to update the law on bereavement damages for unmarried couples, APIL said today.

The Government has published a draft remedial order to amend the Fatal Accidents Act 1976. People whose partners are killed because of negligence would be able to claim for statutory bereavement damages, so long as they have cohabited with the deceased for at least two years.

“So far bereaved partners have been ignored by the law just because they are not married,” said Brett Dixon, president of APIL, a not-for-profit campaign group which has long called for an overhaul of the law on statutory bereavement damages.

“Today’s news is a small but significant step into bringing the system for acknowledging needless bereavement out of the dark ages,” he said.

“It is very long overdue progress on behalf of the millions of cohabitees in loving relationships. The injustice and loss suffered because of a needless death is not limited to those who are married.

“We would like to see the law reflect modern society properly and what families actually look like in 2019. As it stands only spouses, children under the age of 18, and parents of deceased children under the age of 18, are entitled to claim bereavement damages. What about the bereft parents of the 19-year-old killed at work? Or the sister trying to deal with the loss of her sibling in a car crash which should never have happened?” said Mr Dixon.


Notes to editors:

  • The level of statutory bereavement damages in England and Wales is £12,980.
  • The measure implements the Court of Appeal judgment Smith v Lancashire Teaching Hospitals & others [2017] EWCA Civ 1916).
  • APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) is a not-for-profit organisation whose members are dedicated to campaigning for improvements in the law to help people who are injured or become ill through no fault of their own.
  • For more information contact APIL's communications manager Jane Hartwell on t: 0115 943 5416, e:, or press and communications officer Lizzy Freeman t: 0115 943 5431, e:
  • Visit the association's website at
  • Follow @APIL on Twitter:

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